In This Issue

New Brief: Best Practices for Supporting Frontline Violence Intervention Workers

By: Kevin Stewart, Training and Development Specialist, Cure Violence 

A recent brief released by the Healing Justice Alliance highlights the importance of investing in and supporting Frontline Violence Intervention workers. The brief focuses on the ways that hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) and street outreach programs can implement policies and practices that make the personal and professional development of frontline staff an organizational priority. Frontline workers are the cornerstone of any effective program and resources should be devoted to ensuring their success and well-being.

For many frontline workers, violence intervention work is often their first form of professional employment. The brief highlights some strategies that programs can employ to ensure that staff receive the training and support they need to adjust to demands of the job and develop the knowledge and skills needed to be successful. Certifications and other forms of skill development that can increase professional development and career growth are also highlighted.

Vicarious trauma is also common in frontline violence intervention work. Many frontline workers come to this work with their own history of trauma and victimization and the continuous exposure to the trauma material of their clients makes them vulnerable to vicarious traumatization. This brief stresses the importance of institutionalizing and in some cases, mandating self-care to ensure that staff are whole mentally, emotionally and physically as they do this work.

“The self-care piece is just as important as the hard skills needed to do this work. We need to do better to help frontline workers identify when they are in a situation that may cause those burnouts and reinforcing that it is okay to check-in with yourself, take a day off, and let out some of those emotions.” (Kyndra Simmons, Youth ALIVE!)

This brief can be used as a framework for programs to take steps to improve and build on the ways in which they provide training and support to frontline staff. The recommendations provided are not exhaustive but serve as starting point for addressing this important issue. As stated in the brief “investing in frontline workers is an important step toward legitimizing the work and building professional, credible, and well-trained staff.” Click here to view the brief, and for more information about HJA, please visit

Program Spotlight: Young Men’s Empowerment Collaborative, West Contra Costa County, CA
Interview with Paul Barrett

Briefly introduce your program and the population that it serves? 

Safe Horizon is a victim’s services agency in New York City that provides services to all victims of crime. We provide both short term and long-term therapeutic services to meet the needs of our clients who have experiences any type of harm and victimization.  The SMSV demonstration project is specifically focused on enhancing the capacity of a handful our programs to better respond to and provide therapeutic victim services to Black and Latino boys and men of color ages 6-26. 

What have you found to be the biggest need for this population and how has your program addressed that need?
Many of the young men who come through our doors have practical needs that have complicated their health seeking process and that significantly impact their ability to address their healthcare needs. Some of these needs include challenges with the legal system, housing, food insecurity and employment. In many cases, these needs must be addressed before their victimization and healthcare can needs can be a priority. As an organization, we have had to re-envision the way we provide services to better meet the needs of this population. In some cases, we have tapped into our emergency funds to provide food and temporary housing to help stabilize clients.

What are you proudest regarding your work through the SMSV grant?
We have developed some great practical tools that service providers across the agency can utilize to increase their capacity and skills when serving this population. We have also increased our presence in the community which has led to a shift in the narrative about our organization and the services we provide to boys and men of color.

What new relationship or resource have you found to help move your work forward?
The SMSV project has helped us to cultivate some amazing partnerships with local organizations such as the Stand Up to Violence Initiative at Jacobi Medical Center, the Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI) at Kings County Hospital, and Healing Works. Our relationship with these organizations has helped us to build stronger community ties. They have also helped to increase our cultural competency when working with boys and men of color.

What is something positive a client or partner said about your work related to the SMSV grant?
Our clients constantly express how exciting it is to see a mainstream victim services provider make meaningful strides to expand and deepen their involvement in this work. We recognize that the victimization of boys and men of color is an important issue and we are committed to doing our part to better serve this population.

What have you learned that you will carry with you as you continue this work?
Working on this project has furthered opened my eyes to the ways in which trauma responses are criminalized and pathologized for black and brown boys. Additionally. working with our different partners has also helped our organization develop and explore innovation approaches to healing that honor historical practices from communities of color.
Changing the narrative about young men of color who are victims of violence

We want our clients, participants, and community members to be valued, and treated with dignity and respect. News stories that cover violence often reinforce racial biases that perpetuate victim-blaming. We can change this narrative by engaging critically with the news media. Every time you see news coverage of violence think about what is missing from the story, who is blamed for the problem? does the story include any solutions? if solutions are included, who is assigned responsibility for implementing them?

Often times the news frames the story in a “portrait” frame. That means we learn a lot about the individuals involved, and what they did wrong, but very little about what surrounds them and how important the environment is in shaping violence. To change the narrative, we need to change the frame. Letters to the editor offer a great opportunity to do that. When writing a letter to the editor highlight what organizations like yours are doing to help young men and improve community safety. This will help bring in the “landscape” frame or environment in which violence occurs and promote community response.

Learn more in the toolkit we developed for changing the narrative about male survivors of violence. Or talk to us, if you want Technical Assistance to enhance your media engagement strategies.


Healing through Leadership: Providing peer-based support for male survivors of violence

Wed., March 13, 2019 | 3:00 - 4:30 pm
This webinar will highlight three U.S. Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime, Supporting Male Survivors of Violence sites that are piloting new methods of engaging young men of color impacted by violence. Because of their own past violent victimization, male survivors of violence are uniquely positioned to connect with other survivors of violence with similar lived experiences, to help change their trajectories through a peer-based relationship. By providing leadership, training, and support, these programs are changing the narrative of young men of color by creating opportunities for them to be healers and helpers. Attendees will learn about these programs’ successes, lessons learned, and strategies for supporting positive physical, emotional and behavioral health needs of these young men and empowering their capacities to be leaders in their community.  Register today.

In Case You Missed It

Resources to Help You Talk to the Media

Violence as a public health issue has been getting a lot attention lately - from politicians, activists, doctors, and more. As organizations that use trauma-informed approaches to violence, we all are involved in the implementation of this public health approach. This means that we will be getting called upon more and more to talk about the life saving work that you all do. 

In addition to the new toolkit on changing the narrative about male survivors of violence, Healing Justice also has the following communications webinars (
Password: EndViolence1):
In the News

Hospitals could play bigger role in preventing gun violence, study says

Beyond Parkland: Oakland Kids Who Experience Gun Violence Every Day
NPR - It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders

Gun Violence Spreads Like a Contagious Disease.Can School Shootings Be Cured Like One
Pacific Standard

When Teens Threaten Violence, A Community Responds With Compassion
NPR - The Other Side of Anger

End Gun Violence: TOMS Brings Activists, Politicians, Stars Together
The Afro American

Doctors of the World: a public health approach to ending the epidemic of gun violence in the US

Becoming A Trauma Informed City
WBGO - Newark Today

Over 400 county residents get ‘Trauma Informed
The Daily Reporter

Wraparound Violence Prevention Program Helps Victims Restart their Lives
California Health Report
Trauma-Informed Care Corner
By Ted Corbin, MD
Drexel University Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice

Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma
Our team, here at the Drexel University Center for Nonviolence and Social justice, took on a four-day intensive training with Dr. Kenneth Hardy, Professor of Counseling and Family Therapy in the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, co-facilitated by Dr. Ana Hernandez, a marriage and family therapist who practices in New York.  The Training was entitled “Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma.”  This Training is one that I recommend for everyone who works with vulnerable populations of color.  

This four-day intensive training provided a comprehensive overview of the anatomy of racial trauma and the debilitating hidden wounds associated with it. Special attention was devoted to highlighting trauma informed interventions and strategies that centralize race and racial oppression in every facet of the intervention process. The training was built upon the three developmental principles of “Seeing, Being, and Doing” that was translated into four major training objectives: 1) to enhance racial sensitivity and awareness; 2) to provide a framework for conducting progressive and productive conversations about race as well as other dimensions of diversity; and 3) to further enhance the delivery of racially focused, trauma informed care to all program consumers.  

Racial trauma is an inescapable by-product of persistent exposure to repressive circumstances that emotionally, psychologically, and physically devastates one’s sense of self while simultaneously depleting one’s strategies for coping. It is a life altering and debilitating experience that affects countless numbers of people of color over multiple generations. Unfortunately, the failure to consider the interrelationship between racial oppression and trauma limits our ability to work effectively with the people of color who live in the midst of sociocultural conditions that are injurious to their psyches and souls. Even when work is trauma informed, it rarely devotes adequate attention to racial oppression and the pervasive trauma associated with it.
Promoting awareness of and sensitivity to issues of race, equity, and inclusion (REI) is often enhanced by developing mastery in the three interrelated developmental areas of seeing, being, and doing. Devoting attention to the synergistic interplay of these three dynamics helps to promote a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of REI and the varied ways in which these issues inform and shape most interactions within organizations and institutions.
Contents were adapted from Dr. Hardy’s course description.
For more information contact Kenneth Hardy, PhD at
Funding Opportunities

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice
Research and Evaluation on Promising Reentry Initiatives 

Amount: up to $500,000 
Deadline: May 13, 2019 

With this solicitation, NIJ seeks to build knowledge on best practices in offender reentry initiatives. Specifically, NIJ requests proposals for rigorous research to examine reentry initiatives that incorporate promising practices, strategies, or programs. For this solicitation, NIJ is interested in supporting evaluations of innovative reentry initiatives that focus on juveniles, young adults (aged 18-24), and adults with a moderate-to-high risk of reoffending. A particular focus on the risk of reoffending with a violent crime is encouraged. 

Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control
Research Grants for Preventing Violence and Violence Related Injury (R01)

Amount: up to $350,000 
Deadline: March 8, 2019 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) is soliciting investigator-initiated research that will help expand and advance our understanding about what works to prevent violence that impacts children and youth, collectively referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including child abuse and neglect, teen dating violence, sexual violence, youth violence, and exposure to adult intimate partner violence. This initiative is intended to support the evaluation of primary prevention strategies, programs, or policies that target universal or selected high-risk populations. Funds are available to conduct such studies focused on preventing child abuse and neglect and at least one other form of violence affecting children and youth, including youth violence. 

William T. Grant Foundation
Seeks Inequality Research Grants 

Amount: up to $600,000 
Deadline: May 1, 2019 

The William T. Grant Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of youth between the ages 5 and 25, believes that the research community can play a critical role in reversing inequality. The foundation is accepting applications for research that focuses on ways to reduce disparities in youth’s academic, behavioral, social, and economic outcomes. Priority will be given to projects related to inequality on the basis of economic, racial/ethnic, and language backgrounds; research that explores other areas of inequality also will be considered based on a compelling case for its impact.

Research Desk

Fischer, K. R., Bakes, K. M., Corbin, T. J., Fein, J. A., Harris, E. J., James, T. L., & Melzer Lange, M. D. (2019). Trauma-Informed Care for Violently Injured Patients in the Emergency Department. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 73(2), 193–202.
Violent traumatic injury remains a common condition treated by emergency physicians. The medical management of these patients is well described and remains an area of focus for providers. However, violently injured patients disproportionately carry a history of physical and psychological trauma that frequently affects clinical care in the emergency department. The alteration of our clinical approach, taking into consideration how a patient's previous experiences influence how he or she may perceive and react to medical care, is a concept referred to as trauma-informed care. This approach is based on 4 pillars: knowledge of the effect of trauma, recognition of the signs and symptoms of trauma, avoidance of retraumatization, and the development of appropriate policies and procedures. Using this framework, we provide practical considerations for emergency physicians in the delivery of trauma-informed care for violently injured patients.
Beidas, R. S., Jager-Hyman, S., Becker-Haimes, E. M., Wolk, C. B., Ahmedani, B. K., Zeber, J. E., … Marcus, S. C. (2018). Acceptability and Use of Evidence-Based Practices for Firearm Storage in Pediatric Primary Care. Academic Pediatrics.
Promoting safe firearm storage in pediatric primary care is one way to address youth suicide by firearm. The study objective was to determine the perspectives of primary care physicians (PCPs) and leaders of primary care practices regarding the acceptability and use of screening, counseling, and firearm locks-all components of an adapted evidence-based intervention known as the Firearm Safety Check.
In 2016, an online survey was conducted in two large US health systems. PCPs (n = 204) and leaders (n = 57) from 83 clinics were invited to participate. Respondents included 71 clinics (86%), 103 PCPs (50%), and 40 leaders (70%). Main outcomes included acceptability (6-point Likert scale, with higher scores indicating better acceptability) and use of the 3 intervention components (4-point Likert scale, with higher scores indicating greater use), as measured by an adapted validated instrument.
Analyses were conducted in 2017. PCP acceptability of screening (mean = 4.28; standard deviation [SD] = 1.12) and counseling (mean = 4.56; SD = 0.89) were high, but acceptability for firearm lock provision was more neutral (mean = 3.78; SD = 1.16). Most PCPs endorsed sometimes screening (85%) and counseling (80%). Few PCPs offered firearm locks to caregivers (15%). Leaders reported consistent information.
The acceptability of screening for firearms and safe storage counseling was high; both components were used commonly but not routinely. The acceptability of providing firearm locks was neutral, and use was rarely endorsed. This study provides important insights about areas of focus for future implementation efforts from policy and research perspectives.
Betz, M. E., Bebarta, V. S., DeWispelaere, W., Barrett, W., Victoroff, M., Williamson, K., & Abbott, D. (2019). Emergency Physicians and Firearms: Effects of Hands-on Training. Annals of Emergency Medicine73(2), 210–211.
Emergency department (ED) providers have opportunities to prevent firearm injuries or deaths; ED-based interventions include violence intervention programs and counseling about reducing firearm access to prevent suicide. Yet ED providers often do not counsel patients about firearms, in part from knowledge gaps or discomfort discussing firearms. Specific firearm education, including by law enforcement officers, may help providers understand how they help prevent gun violence.
Spencer, C. M., Stith, S. M., & Cafferky, B. (2019). Risk markers for physical intimate partner violence victimization: A meta-analysis. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 44, 8–17.
This meta-analysis provides a comprehensive overview of risk markers for intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization. Data from 391 studies, yielding 1731 effect sizes, were analyzed. Using Dutton's (1995) nested ecological theory, we categorized risk markers into the exosystem, microsystem, and ontogenetic levels. We examined 50 risk markers for IPV victimization for women, and 28 risk markers for IPV victimization for men. Using a random-effects approach, the overall strength of each risk marker for men and women was calculated to find out which risk markers were most strongly correlated with IPV victimization for both men and women. Next, gender was used as a moderator on 28 risk markers to test if there was a significant difference in the strength of risk markers between men and women. We found that the strongest risk markers for IPV victimization for both men and women were risk markers located in the microsystem, and specifically risk markers associated with previous relationship violence. We also found that the strength of 5 out of 28 risk markers for IPV victimization significantly differed between men and women (alcohol use, child abuse in family of origin, depression, older age, sexual IPV victimization). Implications for future research and for clinicians are discussed.
Wadsworth, P., Kothari, C., Lubwama, G., Brown, C. L., & Frank Benton, J. (2018). Health and Health Care From the Perspective of Intimate Partner Violence Adult Female Victims in Shelters: Impact of IPV, Unmet Needs, Barriers, Experiences, and Preferences. Family & Community Health41(2), 123–133.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) predicts poor health for victims and their children, but little is known about the perspective of victims. This study reports the perspectives of adult female IPV victims about the impact of IPV on their health and barriers of health care access for themselves and their children. The majority rated their health as good to excellent (69%). However, 83.5% indicated that IPV negatively affected their health; 53.5% had unmet health care needs. Mental health care was the most common unmet need for women; children's unmet needs were immunizations and preventive care. Transportation difficulties posed the biggest barrier to health care access.

This newsletter is funded in part through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Project # 2015-VF-GX-K025, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).

Copyright © 2019 Healing Justice Alliance, All rights reserved.

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